09/20/2021 12:39:06 PM IST
by Elizabeth Claire Alberts
The recent murder of 1,428 white dolphins in the Faroe Islands has challenged the island nation’s longstanding tradition of hunting whales ashore and slaughtering them for their meat. Less than a week after the controversial hunt, the Faroese Prime Minister Bárður á Steig Nielsen asked for an official evaluation of the hunt.
The hunt in question took place on September 12th in the Eysturoy region of the Faroe Islands, a Danish territory in northern Scotland. After seeing a large group of Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) in front of Eysturoy, the locals drove the animals to the beach of Skalabotnur in motor boats and then killed them with knives.
The hunt was the largest in recent history in the Faroe Islands, according to locals and activists close to the problem. Previous hunts – known locally as “grinds”, short for Grindadráp in Faroese – generally targeted pilot whales (Globicephala spp.) In groups of a few hundred to about a thousand.
Valentina Crast, an activist for Sea Shepherd, a group that has campaigned against whale hunts in the Faroe Islands since the 1980s, says these hunts are a relic of the past and have no place in modern society. She said the hunt was particularly brutal because there weren’t enough people and most dolphins died inhumanly.
“It was just awful,” said Crast Mongabay in a Zoom interview. “We have documented that many of them were not killed properly. They were still alive while they were being thrown on the beach. They fought. And because these animals cannot scream or express their pain, we confuse this with [them not experiencing pain]. ”
According to local media, hunting was not allowed. Heri Petersen, the foreman in charge of authorizing all hunts in Eysturoy, told the local media agency In.fo that he was not informed about the hunt and therefore did not authorize it.
“I am annoyed about it and distance myself from it very much,” said Petersen.
Failure to get permission from the correct foreman is a violation of a local Faroe Islands “mill law”, said Crast.
Many locals have expressed dismay at the hunt, although not everyone appears to be able to speak out in public.
Bára Olsen (not her real name), a local woman from the Faroe Islands who only recently began combating animal welfare hunting, said Mongabay she was shocked by the recent incident.
“What happened on Sunday was absolutely terrible,” said Olsen Mongabay in a telephone interview. “At the moment there is great outrage about this dolphin slaughter. In fact, I’ve never seen anything like it.
Another resident of the Faroe Islands, Johan Andreasen (not his real name) said Mongabay that he does not oppose the pilot whale hunt and has even taken part in previous hunts – but that he did not tolerate this most recent dolphin hunt.
“It’s not our way of doing things,” he told Mongabay on a phone call. “That was never our way of doing things. We never take 1,400 whales at a time.
“At least 200 to 300 whales were completely washed up on the beach, and instead of looking for those whales, the hunters actually swam and caught the ones that did swim,” added Andreasen. “This will need time. And when the whales lie down on the beach, the pressure they put on the sand will press against their lungs, and it’s also very inhuman to let them stay there for so long without killing them immediately.
In response to the anger, Prime Minister Bárður á Steig Nielsen said on September 16 that the government would evaluate the recent hunt.
“We take this matter very seriously,” said Nielsen in a statement. “Although these hunts are considered sustainable, we will take a close look at dolphin hunting and its role in Faroese society. The government has decided to conduct an assessment of the rules on trapping Atlantic white-sided dolphins.
On the other hand, Jacob Vestergaard, the Faroese fisheries minister, had previously stated that he believed the hunt was right.
“I was told that every animal was killed responsibly,” Vestergaard told Faroese news broadcaster Kringvarp Føroya.
Fabienne McLellan, co-director of international relations at the Swiss NGO OceanCare, said she respects and appreciates the news that the Faroese prime minister will evaluate the recent hunt, but it is still unclear “what that really means”.
“We believe that such a review should be extended to the general practice of grinding,” she told Mongabay in an email, “as well as a grinding inspection on September 12th will be part of that process.”
Sea Shepherd’s Crast said she hoped that international attention on the subject would help bring these traditional hunts to an end.
“This time the Faroese community is so angry themselves,” she said. “You are doing this alone, there is a big debate [among] themselves. And I hope that will be enough to get politicians to act.
This article originally appeared on Mongabay.com and was republished under the Creative Commons license.
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